Pan Macmillan has acquired Sarah Hilary's latest standalone novel, Fragile. Hilary's previous novel, Never Be Broken, was published by Headline in 2019.
Vicki Mellor, publishing director for fiction, bought world rights for the new title from Jane Gregory at David Higham Associates. Translation rights are held by Pan Macmillan with the manuscript being submitted before the now cancelled London Book Fair 2020.
Fragile will be published simultaneously in hardback and audiobook in spring 2021. A mass-market paperback will follow later the same year.
The novel follows a young runway, Nell Ballard, who is trying to escape her past. She begins a new job as a housekeeper at Starling Villas, working for an eccentric recluse, Robin Wilder. Wilder lives by an exacting set of rules and expects the same from Nell, but just as she begins to find her place, Robin's ex-wife, Carolyn, arrives.
Mellor said: "I was Sarah’s acquiring editor, working with her on her first four novels and have always loved her signature attention to detail and her psychological insight. The Marnie Rome series has always been critically acclaimed but with this new standalone Pan Macmillan intends to open up her audience. With shades of Rebecca [by Daphne du Maurier] and Patricia Highsmith’s novels, Fragile is a story that entranced me from the outset. It’s disturbing and unsettling but with a vein of hope and fragility running through it."
Hilary added: "I’m thrilled to be back with Vicki who has championed my writing from the start. Fragile is a new direction for me. My first standalone, it grew out of my love of Rebecca and The Handmaid’s Tale."